F1 Podcast: George Russell can’t be ‘nice guy’ in Lewis Hamilton battle, says Nico Rosberg


George Russell “can’t just be the nice guy” in his battle with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg has told the Sky Sports F1 Podcast.


Seven-time world champion Hamilton took responsibility and apologised for causing a first-corner collision with Russell at the Qatar Grand Prix earlier in October, as their inter-team rivalry boiled over following several near misses.


With both drivers contracted to the team until the end of the 2026 season, the pair maintaining a positive relationship is likely to be a crucial factor in Mercedes’ hopes of ending Red Bull’s dominant streak.


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Rosberg, who drove alongside Hamilton for four seasons at Mercedes and beat the Brit in his final F1 campaign in 2016 to seal a maiden drivers’ title, has warned that Russell must continue to apply pressure at all levels.



“Things have been heating up there because also in Suzuka it was well over the limit on one occasions when they both took each other off the track,” Rosberg said.




“It’s a very difficult situation for George as well. Unfortunately, you can’t just be the nice guy in that situation – you have to also internally keep the pressure on.



Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and George Russell collide on the opening lap of the Qatar Grand Prix

“You have to make it difficult for the team, unfortunately. It sucks, but otherwise the team will always just take the easiest route.



“So it’s very uncomfortable because George needs to be pushing – which he does on the radio, you hear him saying things like ‘again’ and things like that. So he’s really trying to hold against it.”


Hamilton said after the race that the incident was “100 per cent” his fault, and was also shown in a video posted on Mercedes’ social media channels offering an apology and hug to Russell, who recovered from the back of the field to finish fourth.



It would appear all is well between George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, after the Mercedes pair embraced each following their collision at the Qatar GP

“It was a good one in Qatar for George because Lewis actually admitted [he was wrong],” Rosberg added.


“So that was a big win for George in that sense, also internally, which is very rare because in my time Lewis never had 100 per cent fault, so he never actually had to admit in that way.


“So it’s very, very rare for Lewis to be at 100 per cent fault at that, it usually never happens.


“It’s to be watched. It’s an interesting battle and dynamic opening out there.”



Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok takes a closer look at the Mercedes opening lap collision between George Russell and Lewis Hamilton

‘Wolff’s absence in Qatar not ideal’

The Qatar collision, along with the near miss in Japan that preceded it, came in the absence of Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who has been at home recovering from knee surgery.


Rosberg believes that Wolff, who is expected to return at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, is the only individual at Mercedes with the “authority” to maintain control of the situation.


“That [Wolff’s absence] would not have been ideal because Toto is the only person there who can manage that – the only person who has the authority and respect to be able to handle that, and he’s the right guy to handle that,” Wolff said.



The FIA are ‘revisiting’ this incident where Lewis Hamilton crossed the live track at the Qatar Grand Prix following his crash with George Russell

“No one else can force them to sit down and have a discussion. I think it will be very good for Toto to be back at the racetrack.”


Rosberg also speculated that Wolff, who lives in Monaco along with both of the British drivers, may have taken advantage of the trio’s proximity to each other to bring them together following the Qatar GP.


“What Toto can do, maybe when they are back in Monaco [at home] on the Monday after Qatar, maybe he would have sat down with both or go and visit Lewis’ apartment and sit down with George individually first. Then ideally you also sit them together.”



Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 Podcast, Ted Kravitz discusses whether the Mercedes collision was a long time coming and how the team-mates could have avoided the crash

“He’s had so much experience with managing team-mates, so he knows what needs to be done. The most important thing for him is to be neutral, which is advice Alain Prost gave him during my time.


“He said, ‘Toto, the most important thing is never take a side between drivers. Stay neutral because once you take a side it spirals out of control’.


“So I’m sure Toto will have learned a lot and I’m sure he will be managing that well.”

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